Last November, Instagram released an update with a feature that made anyone who has ever creeped on an account break out in a cold sweat: screenshot notifications. For most people, this new feature was a nice addition — it lets you know when someone screenshots your photos.
For social stalkers, panic diminished once they took a moment to read past fear-inducing headlines about the notifications: Screenshot notifications only show up when someone screenshots a disappearing message, the photos or videos that you can send via Instagram Direct to friends who have approved your messages. So, if someone screenshots your photo from their regular Instagram feed, you'll never know and their creeping can continue undiscovered.
But there's still a way to keep even a DM screenshot completely secret: Airplane Mode. When enabled, the control turns off all Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular connections. It's a sneaky way for someone to take screenshots of disappearing messages on Instagram and Snaps on Snapchat without the sender finding out. It can also be used to look at messages in Facebook Messenger, but make it look as though the message is still unread.
Here's how it works: If you send a message to a friend via Facebook, Instagram Direct, or Snapchat, they need to have Airplane Mode disabled to actually received the message. However, after it's been received they can turn on Airplane Mode and open and screenshot a message on any of three platforms. Then, they close the application completely and disable Airplane Mode again.
On your end, you won't see any evidence of screenshots having been taken and it will look as though the Snap and Facebook Message were never even opened.
Yes, it's devious, and no, there's no way around it. So, let this serve as a warning: If you are planning to send a private photo, make sure you really trust the recipient.